Poland’s Krzysztof Holowczyc, Spaniard Marc Coma and Qatar’s Adel Hussein Abdullah recorded the fastest selective section times in the car, motorcycle and quad categories on the third and penultimate day of the 2013 Sealine Cross-Country Rally in southern Qatar on Thursday.
Frenchman Jean-Louis Schlesser, Coma and Poland’s Rafal Sonik retained the overall category leads. Schlesser, who lies second in the FIA World Cup standings after two rounds, will start the final leg with a comfortable unofficial lead of 25min 46sec over Mini driver Holowczyc, who lost vital time changing two flat tyres near the end of the stage.
Kazakh Aidyn Rakhimbayev recorded the second quickest time in his Overdrive Toyota Hilux and Qatar’s Faisal Al-Attiya (Hummer) was third, despite losing a lot of time stuck on the ridge of a sand dune near the finish. Venezuelan driver Nunzio Coffaro holds third overall in the second Belgian-built Toyota
“We lost our chance to gain the time back today,” said Holowczyc’s disgruntled co-driver Andreas Schulz. “Schlesser was waiting for us not far from the end on a dune. He did not want to open the road tomorrow. That is the game. But we also had two punctures and that cost us a lot of time.”
Day 3 – as it happened
Car driver Schlesser began day three with a comfortable 35min 34sec advantage over Holowczyc and headed off into distance once again. Coffaro and Rakhimbayev took up the pursuit once Toyota team-mate Martin Kaczmarski stopped near the stage start. The rookie had been feeling ill overnight and was given medical permission to restart after an examination.
Schlesser was 15 seconds in front of Rakhimbayev at PC1, but the revelation of the morning had been Qatar’s Faisal Al-Attiya in his Hummer. After feeling unwell on Wednesday, the local driver restarted in eighth position on the road and he was well ahead of Schlesser at the first checkpoint. Holowczyc reached the PC 46 seconds in front of the Frenchman in second position.
Al-Attiya continued his charge through the middle part of the stage and had overtaken everyone except for Schlesser by PC2. He was 12min 33sec in front of the Frenchman as the route meandered north through the southern Qatar wilderness. He soon passed Schlesser as well and reached PC3 with a lead of 23min 10sec over Schlesser.
Al-Attiya stopped after the third passage control and the chasing pack moved in front once more, but Holowczyc also ground to a halt on the run north with two flat tyres and still finished the special in first position after Schlesser and Coffaro lost time trying to find the correct track and Al-Attiya got stuck on the crest of a sand dune.
Competitive action draws to a close on Friday with the fourth selective section in the southern Qatar desert. The stage begins 1.04km from the Sealine bivouac and runs for 275.50km to a finish 6.19km from the service area and podium, where the finishing celebrations will take place at 16.00hrs.
Positions on SS3 – 407.10km (unofficial @ 13.30hrs):
1. Krzysztof Holowczyc (POL)/Andreas Schulz (DEU) Mini All4 Racing 4hr 23min 55sec
2. Aidyn Rakhimbayev (KAZ)/Vladimir Demiyaneko (RUS) Toyota Hilux 4hr 26min 37sec
3. Faisal Al-Attiya (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Hummer 4hr 29min 25sec
4. Nunzio Coffaro (VEN)/Daniel Meneses (VEN) Toyota Hilux 4hr 33min 34sec
5. Jean-Louis Schlesser (FRA)/Konstantin Zhiltstov (RUS) Schlesser Original 4hr 33min 43sec
Overall positions after SS3 (unofficial @ 13.30hrs):
1. Jean-Louis Schlesser (FRA)/Konstantin Zhiltstov (RUS) Schlesser Original 13hr 22min 18sec
2. Krzysztof Holowczyc (POL)/Andreas Schulz (DEU) Mini All4 Racing 13hr 48min 04sec
3. Nunzio Coffaro (VEN)/Daniel Meneses (VEN) Toyota Hilux 14hr 31min 50sec
4. Aidyn Rakhimbayev (KAZ)/Vladimir Demiyanenko (RUS) Toyota Hilux 14hr 45min 38sec
. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Maciej Marton (POL) Hummer H3 Evo 14hr 55min 09sec